Let’s discuss the second of the new MTG Phyrexia: All Will Be One Commander decks. Yesterday, we wrote a piece analyzing Rebellion Rising, a Red/White deck focussed on building up an army of creature tokens. Today, we’ll be looking at Corrupting Influence, an Abzan deck that’s all about poison counters. Read on to find out our recommended upgrades for this menacing Phyrexian deck.
The Game Plan
Corrupting Influence is a deck all about using and abusing poison counters. Whenever a player gets 10 or more poison counters they lose the game, regardless of their current life total. While poison counters can be used aggressively to quickly rush down one player at a time, this deck encourages you to adopt a different strategy. Corrupting Influence wants you to spread poison across the board to everyone before going in for the kill. This can be seen by looking at the deck’s commander, Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa.
Ixhel is a 2/5 with flying, vigilance, and toxic 2. Toxic is a new mechanic from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Having “toxic 2” means that Ixhel gives two poison counters to any opponent she damages. Ixhel also exiles the top card from the deck of each opponent with three or more poison counters during each of your end steps. You can then play those cards, and act as though your mana is any color when doing so.
Ixhel demonstrates why this deck wants you to spread poison around, rather than targeting it all at one player. If you only have one opponent with nine poison counters, you only get one card during each end step. If you have three opponents each with three counters you have access to three cards. Perhaps this strategy is less efficient than just going straight for the kill, but it creates a better social experience. No player will ever feel like you’re unfairly targeting them.
The deck’s subcommander, Vishgraz, the Doomhive is also, unsurprisingly, focused on poison counters. Vishgraz is a 5-mana 3/3 with menace and toxic 1. When Vishgraz enters play you get three 1/1 Phyrexian Mite tokens with poison 1 that cannot block. Vishrgraz, like Ixhel, rewards you for giving poison counters to everybody, as Vishgraz gains +1/+1 for each poison counter your opponents have. Vishgraz is, arguably, the less exciting of the deck’s two potential commanders. It seems like the right call to keep Ixhel in your Command Zone.
Ixhel and Vishgraz are assisted by a wide selection of poisonous Phyrexians. Many cards in the deck have infect, a mechanic from Scars of Mirrodin block. Creatures with infect deal damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and damage to players in the form of poison counters. Cards like Phyrexian Swarmlord and Glissa’s Retriever bring you closer and closer to a win.
The deck is also packed full of cards with proliferate effects to keep the poison flowing. Cards with Proliferate allow you to give anything with counters more of those counters. Evolution Sage is a great fit here, every time you play a land this little elf will pump out more poison counters. Proliferate is particularly useful in this deck, as it spreads not only the poison counters you need to win, but also the -1/-1 counters distributed by your creatures with infect.
Here are some upgrades for this deck which only cost about $1…
Just how viable combat tricks are in a Commander is hotly debated. They work wonderfully with infect cards though. Invigorate is one of the best combat tricks to use in conjunction with a Phyrexian Swarmlord. Invigorate provides a +4/+4 buff and can be cast for free in exchange for giving an opponent three life. Since you’re going to be winning using poison counters, rather than reducing anyone’s life total to zero, Invigorate has no downside in this deck and is a great inclusion.
Many of the cards you’ll want to be hitting your opponent with in this deck are only 1/1s or 2/2s. From Ichorclaw Myr to Grateful Apparition. Behind the Scenes grants the ability skulk to all of your creatures, making them unblockable by anything with higher power. This enables you to sneak your low-power creatures though. For bonus fun, once the creatures are past the blockers, but before damage is dealt, you can buff them using a combat trick like Invigorate
Double strike is very highly valued by this deck, as it allows both your toxic and your infect creatures to dish out twice as many poison counters. Duelist’s Heritage lets you grant a creature of your choice double strike every combat phase. You can use this card to make your best poison spreader even better. You can even use it on your opponents’ turns to buff their creatures up as they attack one another.
This deck doesn’t come with a copy of Swiftfoot Boots, and it’s best to remedy that as soon as possible. You’ll need the protection the boots provide to keep Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa safe and to ensure that you can always use her to steal cards from your opponents.
Finally, Casulties of War is just an essential removal spell for any deck using both Black and Green. This card allows you to destroy one card of every permanent type, taking out anything from creatures to planeswalkers to enchantments in a single powerful blow.
Here are some powerful, but costly, cards if you’re really looking to spice this deck up…
A brand new card that slots right into this deck is Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting. Vraska is a Planeswalker with a Proliferate effect for a 0 loyalty ability. She can increase the poison in play every turn which is invaluable here. Her -2 loyalty ability is also a decent removal effect. If you can get Vraska up to nine loyalty, you can use her to give an opponent nine poison counters, putting them only a single counter away from defeat.
You can show your opponents the radiant glory of Phyrexia using Sword of Truth and Justice. A part of the iconic sword cycle, Sword of Truth and Justice is a powerful piece of equipment. The equipped creature gets +2/+2 and protection from White and Blue, so they can’t be hit by Swords to Plowshares or Pongify. More importantly, whenever the equipped creature deals damage to an opponent you can put a +1/+1 counter on a creature and then proliferate.
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is one of the best infect creatures in the game. For five mana Skithiryx is a 4/4 flyer with infect. The skeletal dragon can also grant itself haste and can regenerate, making it hard to destroy. Skithiryx soars over your opponent’s blockers and gets you 40% of the way to a kill with every hit.
Phyrexian Crusader is another fantastic infect creature. The Crusader demonstrates why infect and first strike are a deadly combination, as anything that blocks Phyrexian Crusader gains two -1/-1 counters, weakening it before it has the chance to strike back. Phyrexian Crusader also has protection from White and Red, keeping it safe from two colors with powerful removal suites.
Finally, Inkmoth Nexus is a great utility land for any infect deck. The nexus can be tapped down for one colorless mana, or transformed into a 1/1 flying artifact creature token with flying and infect.
Cards To Cut
Mycosynth Fiend isn’t worth keeping around. A 2/2 for three mana is dreadful in any format, let alone Commander. Although the fiend does grow bigger for each poison counter your opponents have, the absence of any keyword abilities on this card means it can’t do anything with its increased stats. Maybe if it had trample it would be a card worth considering, but unfortunately, it does not.
Draw spells are always great in Commander, however, Painful Truths is a subpar option. You need to pay all three colors of mana this deck has access to so that you can get the most out of this card. This is very frustrating. Swap it out for a card like Read the Bones which has a less prohibitive mana requirement and allows you to scry before you draw.
While this deck needs many sources of poison counters, some of the poison cards that it has are pretty dreadful. Blight Mamba and Carrion Call would be better off swapped out for better options. You can look for replacements among the old infect cards from Scars of Mirrodin, or try out some of the new cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Skrelv’s Hive and White Sun’s Zenith are some appealing alternatives.
Chromatic Lantern is a great card in the right context, but this deck is not the place for it. Some decks which run three or more colors require Chromatic Lantern to fix their mana so that they always have access to the right colors. The mana base for this deck is pretty decent, by preconstructed Commander deck standards, so Chromatic Lantern is unnecessary. Furthermore, you have access to Green which provides you with a huge range of superior ramp and mana-fixing options.
Read More: Best Upgrades for MTG Rebellion Rising Deck